Common Threads: Linda Branch Dunn, Eileen Marie Friedrich, Stacey Piwinski & Terri Ragot

12 November – 28 December 2011

L to R (details): Stacey Piwinski, Linda Dunn, Terri Ragot
(click on images to enlarge)

Common Threads was cooked up in the director’s office. She proposed an exhibit that would be colorful and vibrant, showcasing the work of local fiber artists. What evolved began with that seed, eventually becoming an exhibit that bridges work made by Groton women with artists from further afield, all bound by a commonality that begins in fiber, whether it be cotton, wool, silk or manmade.

Eileen Marie Friedrich, untitled rug

Eileen Marie Friedrich is a long time Groton resident who has been rug hooking for over 50 years. She is a self-taught artist who uses hand dyed wool to hook her rugs, the backs of which are nearly as lovely as the fronts. She was once part of a local rug hooking organization known as the “Happy Hookers.” The untitled rug in the alcove could easily be a Groton scene, with its saltbox house on a country lane, accompanied by apple tree, cat and crow.

Terry Ragot, Skyline/Sparkle

Terri Ragot is a registered nurse from Groton who hails from a family steeped in needlework. She has begun dying her own fabric. The piece “Squares,” an abstract tropical paradise of guava and pineapple hue, was first machine stitched. Ragot didn’t care for the look of that so she ripped out the machine stitching and hand stitched it instead. Her vibrant pieces are playful color vignettes. In “Skyline/ Sparkle” there is what appears to be a multi-colored high rise building against a black background. Adjacent to that the sparkling sun sets. The geometry of the building is fanciful as if the building were bulging at the seams. Terri’s work has the feel of an artist who is about to take a large leap into the unknown, and thereby find her wings.

Stacey Piwinski, April

Stacey Piwinski begins by weaving her own fabric, then cuts it into strips and combines it with oil paint on canvas. The oil paint itself appears to be woven, and Piwinski works back and forth between warp and woof, brush and color. There is a thick oozy quality to her paint that echoes the materiality of the fabric. In “April,” the lines of paint wiggle in wavy horizontal and diagonal lines across the canvas, intersected by the columns of fabric they mimic but do not copy. It’s an interesting conceptual idea to vacillate between fabric and paint, creating a dialogue between the 2 mediums that is unusual and abstract. Where does the fabric begin and the paint end? The vibrant canvases oscillate with color and pulsating energy, bringing to mind the wall hangings of El Anatsui, an artist she admires.

Linda Branch Dunn, Branch, Blossom, Tree

Whereas Stacey’s work interweaves handwoven fiber and paint, Linda Branch Dunn writes of her work: “I work in the borderlands where quilt and canvas meet.” This borderland is inhabited by figures, text and repeated imagery. Using a variety of techniques to imbue the fabric with color, form, tree, branch, limb and text, she creates fabric hangings that evoke a quiet sensibility as well as an exquisite sense of touch. In “Branch, Blossom, Tree” Linda arranges strips of fabric into branch like forms. There are repeated figures, images of trees and scattered birds, fragments of text. The machine stitching often follows and extends the forms of tree and figure, connecting that which is human to that which is tree.

One of the techniques Linda uses is gelatin printing, which allows an artist to capture minutely sensitive impressions of ferns and other flat textural objects by pressing them into an inked gelatin plate. These impressions are found throughout her work, imbuing it with the sense of light falling through leaves.

Dunn concludes her artist statement with the following line: Every piece is a journey, and the journey itself is home.” A more apt metaphor for the artistic process I have not found.

Deborah Santoro, Curator

All are welcome to a reception & talk with the artists on: Saturday, December 3, 2011, from 1:00-2:30 pm. This event is free and open to the public. Light refreshments provided.

This exhibit is supported by the Groton Public Library Endowment Trust.